North Carolina is sending help to its southern neighbor in response to an aid request from South Carolina emergency management officials as rain continues to pummel the Palmetto state.
“With the traumatic flooding occurring in South Carolina, I’ve directed North Carolina’s Emergency Management officials to provide as much logistical support as they need from us,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “Our state has sufficient personnel and supplies to keep North Carolinians safe if conditions warrant.”
Four North Carolina Helo Aquatic Rescue Teams (NC HART) will deploy Sunday evening to help rescue stranded residents and motorists who are trapped in the rising flood waters. Stationed in Salisbury, North Carolina, each team is comprised of three to five rescue technicians and National Guard pilots and crew who train monthly to maintain their certification.
“Given North Carolina’s experience with severe flooding, we’re keenly aware of the critical need for experienced search and rescue teams,” said Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. “We will do all we can to help our southern neighbors as they face unprecedented flooding.”
The NC HART combines the expertise of local rescue technicians with the training, maintenance and capabilities of the N.C. National Guard and N.C. Highway Patrol Aviation Units. Nearly 60 highly trained technicians are positioned throughout the state working routinely as first responders or emergency medical technicians with local fire or EMS teams. When called upon, the technicians are paired with a helicopter crew from the National Guard or State Highway Patrol and together, they form one of the specialized NC HART teams.
The highly-specialized teams were used extensively following hurricanes Frances and Ivan in 2004 to rescue an estimated 350 residents from fast moving water and areas isolated when landslides cut off roads and escape routes. Since then, the teams also have rescued numerous stranded or injured hikers from remote mountainous regions. The NCHART program became one of the first of its kind in the nation to implement a regimented training and response program that combines the best civilian rescuers with military aviation assets.
“NC HART has been in operation for 10 years. It’s a great example of the partnership among the N.C. National Guard, Emergency Management, law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services. NC HART has rescued more than 70 people in its 10 years,” said Col. Brian Pierce, NCNG state aviation officer. “We’re going to get down to South Carolina as quickly as possible to help our neighbors during this disaster.”
Earlier today, South Carolina asked for the advanced search and rescue teams, as well as an experienced public information officer to help in their Joint Information Center.
“The Emergency Management Assistance Compact provides a coordinated relief effort for disaster stricken states ensuring that they get the right type of resources as the right time,” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “This helps to ensure the impacted state gets exactly what they need and not unnecessary resources that could complicate their response. This kind of coordination is a tremendous help to the emergency managers in the stricken states.”
The EMAC system was developed by state governors following Hurricane Andrew in Florida when critical resources were needed by the state of Florida, Sprayberry said. North Carolina has sent teams to help with numerous disaster response efforts including Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina and Alaska following flooding in 2007.